Heavy rains today could disrupt water supply

Published: Thursday | November 1, 2012 Comments 0

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

Major disruptions to the already crippled water supply system are once again looming, with expectations of prolonged showers forecast for this week in some of the areas already hard hit by Hurricane Sandy.

But even before fresh rains descends on the already saturated landscape, the National Water Commission (NWC) has served notice that major water disruptions will affect the people of Portmore and downtown Kingston due to extensive damage to the Rio Cobre pipeline that feeds water into these areas.

To make matters worse, a new round of showers expected to descend on Jamaica today has precipitated major concerns for the utility company that is likely to be hampered in its efforts to restore normality to these communities.

Jamaicans living in some of these communities appear to be in for the long haul as the new bout of rains are likely to obstruct restoration efforts as well.

Head of the Weather Branch at the Meteorological Service, Evan Thompson, confirmed that a lingering cold front should produce showers as well as the colder-than-normal and windy weather conditions.

"We can expect rains on Thursday in particular," Thompson told The Gleaner.

NWC Corporate Public Relations Manager Charles Buchanan told The Gleaner it would be tough going in the days ahead.

"It would be difficult to say but more than likely, it (the impending rains) will slow down our efforts," he said. "It could make already saturated areas more difficult to work in."

flood-related challenges

Buchanan cited the likelihood that prolonged rains could precipitate additional flood-related challenges, including turbidity.

"Blockage of intakes could worsen, particularly in some of the systems that weakened over the course of the last week," he said.

"It is possible that any further poor weather conditions could create further challenges for us in those areas, both in terms of restoration time, disruption and further damage that we may suffer, but there are scenarios that you are not looking forward to at this point in time," Buchanan said.

He cited the perennially rainy parishes of Portland, St Ann and St Mary as particularly challenging at this time.

"These are the ones with which we are having the greatest level of difficulty at the moment ... ."

Buchanan told The Gleaner that emergency work is to be carried out in the Rio Cobre system which feeds into the populous communities of Portmore and sections of the Corporate Area. Those areas began feeling the effects of water disruptions yesterday.

gary.spaulding@gleanerjm.com

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